The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday converted the death sentence of Surendra Koli, the prime accused in the gruesome Nithari killings case, to life imprisonment, based on a PIL filed on the case, citing a delay in the hearing of his mercy petition.
Koli's mercy plea had been pending for three years. He was convicted of the murder, rape and cannibalism of five children, while another 14 cases against him are still pending. It is unclear what the commutation of the death sentence in this case means in terms of the sentencing in the other cases.
The PIL was filed on 31 October, 2014, three days after the Supreme Court rejected Koli's recall application. A petition filed later by Koli himself, challenging the death sentence on the same grounds as the one stated in the PIL, had also been clubbed with it.
Hearing on the petition challenging the death sentence awarded to Koli had concluded on 27 January before the Allahabad high court.
While Pandher was also given a death sentence by the CBI court, the HC acquitted him of all charges on 11 September, 2009.
The death warrant issued by the trial court on 2 September, 2014 had fixed 12 September as the date of hanging, though its execution was stayed in view of the apex court's decision to hear the recall application.
Rejection of the recall application had cleared the docks for execution of the death sentence, though it was stayed by the high court on 31 October when it decided to hear the PIL wherein it was pleaded that the period elapsed in disposal of Koli's mercy petition was "3 years and 3 months" and, as such, its execution would be in violation of the Right to Life granted in Article 21 of the Constitution.
After his appeal against the trial court order was turned down vide a High Court order dated 11 September, 2009, whereby Pandher was acquitted, Koli filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging his conviction which was dismissed on 15 February, 2011.
Koli, thereafter filed his mercy petition before the governor of Uttar Pradesh on 7 May, 2011, which was rejected 23 months later, on 2 April, 2013.
The mercy petition was thereafter forwarded to the Union home ministry on 19 July, 2013 and it was turned down by the President on 20 July, 2014.
With PTI inputs
Your guide to the latest seat tally, live updates, analysis and list of winners for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 542 constituencies on counting day of the general elections.
Updated Date: Jan 28, 2015 18:10:00 IST